Posts Tagged ‘kiln shelves’

There is nothing more disturbing than this.

Luckily it is unusual to wake up and discover that the laws of physics have been contravened during the night, but believe me, when it does happen, it puts a kink in your day, not to mention the universe. A serious kink not straightened out by the suspicion that the reason might be that the kiln is sick. Universe-bendingly sick.

OK, so what happened exactly? In your own words, ma’am. Take your time.

I went to the opera with a friend (Barber of Seville, since you ask, sung in English with the most fabulously witty libretto), came home, shoved some stuff in the kiln and went to bed. On the bottom was a red and white two-layer disc to go in the dog bowl mold, on top was a 30cm disc. The details of this are important. The bottom layer was Bullseye 2mm transparent glass in charcoal gray and dark plum covering approximately the surface area shown in the somewhat dodgy illustration to the right. Over it was a 30cm disc of 3mm Bullseye Tekta (clear). I set a top temperature of 1345°, for 15 minutes. I reckon the total thickness was 1½ x 3mm layers.

Now one of the few things I thought I really knew about glass was that when you heat it up to fluidity, it will look to be around 6mm (two standard layers) thick when left to its own devices. A thinner disc will tend to contract (to a footprint that will allow it to be 6mm thick), giving those characteristic needle-sharp projections where the glass is said to have “grabbed” the shelf (clinging on by its fingernails?) in contracting. A thicker disc will likewise tend to overflow its footprint until it reaches the 6mm level. Simple. I understand it to be something to do with surface tension.

I know this is why, when your toddler upends a glass of milk, it doesn’t just conveniently fall on the floor in an upside-down glass of milk shape but spreads out into an unholy mess over an area several times the size of the kitchen, covering all available surfaces (including, but not limited to, the dishwasher door, the walls and the ceiling). This is because spilt milk has a surface tension equal to parental tension/infinity -1. Mercury has a much greater surface tension, which is why a spilt thermometer will roll around forever like poisonous marbles. All it means to me in glassworld is that a dichroic pendant comes out a nice even 6mm even though it’s made of several different pieces of glass and would otherwise come out in lots of little lumps and bumps, or flow into a flat and fragile disc of immense thinness. So this much I thought I knew.

Why then, did the glass disc on the top shelf spread out to a thickness of about 2mm, such that it flowed right over the edge of the shelf on one side? And it split in half, to boot. As I say, worrying non-conformity to the laws of physics.

Except of course, it wasn’t that at all. Rather more mundanely, I think the kiln wasn’t level, because the floor isn’t entirely level (I’ve now pulled out the spirit level and am planning on checking obsessively before every firing). Also it almost certainly overheated because I may have had the shelf edge too close to the thermostat, baffling it in both senses of the word. The red and white bowl also came out not level, and needed to go back in. Now it’s fine: I’m fabulously pleased with it.

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Shelf life

My replacement shelf arrived today while I was out. My kind neighbour took it in and neither of us was terribly impressed by the packaging. I for one am all for recycling, but I think one of the larger stained glass supply shops should actually get themselves proper boxes, not random, odd-sized and pre-damaged not-terribly-strong-looking boxes from the supermarket. In other words, my shelf and the precious glass I was unable to resist ordering with it should NOT have said “Asda coleslaw x 24” on the side of it, and more importantly SHOULD have said FRAGILE. Ideally instead, but at a pinch I would have settled for alongside. So far, so not fanastic. According to my neighbour the Fedex man bowled it into his hallway in a way that just might have been suitable if it’d been a case of cotton wool. Well, I checked it and miraculously everything seems to be intact. Now I just have to find the time to kiln wash it. Before I forget whether I did or not. At the moment I have some molds prepped with Paragon kiln wash which starts pale cream and turns dark, new-plaster pink, and other molds prepped with Bullseye kiln wash which – yep – is the other way about. As the bisqueware and unprepped molds are also pale cream in their unwashed state, I am currently a little uncertain about what is in what state. And I’m pretty twitchy about it since I’ve already had one disaster with an unprepped mold (just when I was switching kiln wash, so I wasn’t too aware). In short, I lost the mold (I think) and the glass. Actually I managed to get most of the glass out (with a hammer, no less) and the mold is only a little bit chipped and may still have some utility so every now and then I prop it upside down on kiln posts and fire Kelvin up to see if he can persuade the remaining glass to drop out. And if he does I’ll have rescued the mold. Value about £7.50 I think. But it will be most unsatisfying if I have to throw it away unused. At least it was one of the cheap ceramic cafe molds.

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